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Navy ship deck logs and war diaries are related but different records during World War II. Deck logs entries are created according to the ship’s deck watches (0000-0400; 0400-0800; and so on) and are maintained on the ship’s bridge when underway or on the quarterdeck while moored or at anchor. Both the Commanding Officer and Navigator (who is the Executive Officer in some ships) sign the deck logs. By regulation deck logs are submitted at this time to the Bureau of Naval Personnel. In time they were accessioned into the National Archives.
Ship war diaries are similar to the deck logs--they share some characteristics such as their arrangement by deck watches. However, after signature again by the CO and Navigator, the war diaries were submitted up the ship’s operational chain of command, so for a destroyer such as the USS Richard P. Leary (DD-664), the war diaries would have been submitted to Destroyer Division 111 (DESDIV 111), then Destroyer Squadron 56 (DESRON 56), then to whichever task force or task group the squadron was assigned. Ultimately the war diaries would reach the Fleet Commander level, ultimately heading to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The war diaries are also considered to be historically valuable records and NARA has accessioned them.
What both deck logs and war diaries share in common is their source in the document you apparently possess--the “rough” deck log. The green bound books are a Navy staple (I’ve written in plenty of them during my much more recent service), and both shore stations and ships went through many of them. On board ship it was the duty of the quartermaster of the watch to maintain the rough deck log, recording events and times as they occur, or at least as soon as possible, depending upon the nature of the event. Afterwards, on a daily basis, the quartermasters turn the rough log over to one of the ship’s yeoman so that a “smooth” deck log can be typed up. I don’t know who prepared the war diaries--World War II examples I have seen are hand-written in pencil.
The status of the rough deck logs as Navy records has been long established--they are considered by the Navy to be temporary records, as the information they convey is captured (twice) in permanent records that NARA already maintains. So please don’t send the log our way. It’s disposition is completely up to you. If you have a maritime museum in your area, you may want to consider donating it as a memento of World War II service, along with any other artifacts you may want to part with--this gives an exhibit some meaning and context.
Thank you so much for this very complete and helpful answer to my question. We have a military museum in Madison WI and when I have finished scanning its contents, I will ask our local museum if they are interested in the original pieces I have found. If not, the deck log and other memorabilia will remain in my father-in-law's archive of war treasures. From your description, I'm sure we are talking about a deck log for the last 7 months of the RP Leary's active duty. Some of the writing and a cartoon figure drawn on the outside of the book are certainly in my father-in-law's hand. I know that he was sometimes the watch officer on his ships, so this makes complete sense.
Dear Lynn, My grandfather was a radarman 1st class on the Leary from commissioning to her inactivation after the war. I have his original cruise book (diary and pictures) which I have scanned. Would you consider sharing the scan of the deck log with me? I wonder if some of the pictures are of your father in-law. What is his name? Thank you, Joe